Recently we’ve had two visits to Darlington – my last surviving aunt had died at the age of 95 and I was asked if I could lead the service celebrating her life. Afterwards we went to the Blackwell Grange Hotel nearby for refreshments and there would be about 40 of us there. And that was when it got interesting!
I knew Aunt Dorothy’s three sons, though it has been years since I had seen any of them. There was another cousin, Arnold, who at 71 is still farming and coming towards the end of lambing – he has 400 ewes and so has spent a lot of nights lately on the settee and been going out at all hours in the night. I knew him and his wife Jean, and there was Joy and also my sister and her husband. But after that I was scratching my head, or asking somebody I knew ‘Who’s that?’ Yet by the time we came away I had been able to make quite a few more connections.
It was after I’d come away that I began to reflect that though I hadn’t known most of the folk there, we were all connected and most could speak of a family connection. In fact even though I hadn’t seen those I knew for years I still felt part of the family. It was a good feeling!
A few weeks ago I was speaking at a meeting and somebody there that I knew was reflecting that even though he has moved
around the country a lot because of his work, one thing he had found and could count on was that when you went to a new Methodist Church you were among family. He had always found a welcome.
That’s the way it should be. One of the things a reading this morning from the First Letter of Peter was emphasising was the importance as Christians of our communal life together. Afterwards over tea and coffee it felt as if there was a real family feeling. It is one of the things that people say about our church in Tadcaster, that it’s a friendly and welcoming church. The same can’t be said of all churches, sadly, but long may it continue to be so here.
As Joy and I prepare to move on we know you will make Amy feel welcome. We thank you for all your love and friendship over the years and know that just because we move away that will not end. We also pray that when we settle in Beverley we shall feel part of the family there as well.
Wishing you much love,
Your Minister and friend,